Cleveland Browns have clear path to hire Josh McDaniels or Kevin Stefanksi
The Cleveland Browns are one of two teams still with a head coaching vacancy, but they now have no competition for Josh McDaniels or Kevin Stefanski.
Since the start of the Cleveland Browns search for their next head coach, it has been clear Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski were the front-runners for the position.
Cleveland has undergone a wide-ranging search and has already interviewed five candidates with three more lined up this week. However, even though the Browns have conducted the broadest search in the NFL this offseason, McDaniels and Stefanski have appeared to be Plan A and Plan B from the start.
Although the Browns had to wait to interview McDaniels and Stefanski until this week because their current teams played during the Wild Card round, Cleveland’s only real competition for either coach was the Carolina Panthers. McDaniels was believed to be only seriously considering Carolina or Cleveland, and Stefanski’s only other interview was with Carolina.
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Cleveland’s competition for either coach did not last long, however, as the Panthers will reportedly hire Baylor head coach Matt Rhule to be their next head coach. Stefanski did not have any other interviews lined up, but McDaniels was scheduled to interview with the Giants on Wednesday. However, that was cancelled as well as the Giants also made their head coach hire on Tuesday, reportedly hiring Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge to be their head coach.
With the Giants and Panthers making their head coach hires on Tuesday, the Browns have a clear path to hire the two coaches who were viewed as the favorites from the start. Now Cleveland can conduct their interviews with McDaniels and Stefanski and determine who should be their next head coach.
McDaniels has been considered the top choice for the Browns job because he has long been a favorite of Cleveland’s ownership. His work as an offensive coordinator and learning under Bill Belichick for more than a decade has consistently made him a top head coach candidate. His lack of commitment to a team other than the Patriots has been a deterrent, but it will reportedly be difficult for McDaniels to turn down his hometown team.
Stefanski was almost named the Browns head coach last offseason, as Paul DePodesta and the analytics department recommended Stefanski. Instead Jimmy Haslam and John Dorsey chose Freddie Kitchens. Stefanski has built a strong offensive scheme that has played to the strengths of the Vikings offensive personnel. With DePodesta leading the Browns head coaching search, Stefanski has another chance to make an impact on the search committee.
Cleveland’s job may not have been considered the top available job this offseason because of the impatience of the Haslams. However, with the other four head coaching vacancies filling up before the Browns were done conducting interviews, Cleveland will have an opportunity to get their No. 1 choice.
No matter who the Browns choose, they will have leverage in the situation. If whoever is their top choice wants to be a head coach in 2020, they will have no other choice than to pick the Browns. Cleveland not being in a rush to pick their head coach should benefit the Browns considering they do not have to panic to hire the candidate they feel is best suited for the job.
It is rare for a team to be the last organization to hire their head coach and have their top two choices still be available. But with McDaniels and Stefanski still available as candidates, the Browns will have their pick for whoever they want to be the next head coach.